A trending topic that seems to be on the radar of every business owner and executive around the world is leadership development, or so they say.
Pause for my eye roll.
If this were truly the case, companies wouldn’t be failing as horribly as they are at developing emerging leaders.
Now, I’m sure the majority of the people who read this are in agreement. For those of you who aren’t, instead of telling you that this problem exists and not explaining how I’ve come to this conclusion, let me break it down for you.
Business owners and executives know that they need to invest in developing people who have the potential to lead, manage, and supervise teams. After all, businesses are made up of people and people are the number one reason why businesses succeed or fail. Whether a business of 5 or 5,000, someone has to be in charge. Someone has to be the person to select, direct, motivate, and develop.
It’s ultimately the development of these select few that leads to success. Holy cow, pull up any article from a credible source on this topic and you will be inundated with statistics that prove that the teams with great leadership have a distinct advantage over the teams who have poor to mediocre leadership.
Business owners and executives also realize that work is a means to an end. Everyone does, for that matter. Side note – I feel like this idea always comes with a negative connotation, and that could not be more misunderstood or further from the truth. It’s fact. People don’t work forever. And they certainly can’t live forever. So in order to perpetuate success, the development of future leaders is absolutely imperative.
The fact of the matter is that we’ve lost our way. Somewhere in this leadership development discussion confusion has set in. Reflecting on recent conversations I’ve had with current business owners and executives, there’s one blatantly obvious reason that stands out to me: the blurred line between development and training.
Training does NOT equal development.
Training is transactional. And while it can lead to development, training and development are two separate entities.
Let’s make this a real-world example for a moment. It may be easier to understand. Take the gym, for instance. People hire a personal trainer to put them through training sessions. They attend these training sessions religiously but don’t see the results they initially set out to achieve. Why? Because the human element comes into play.
It is possible that a variety of a combination of things happen. For example, you are not eating right, you are not sleeping enough, you are drinking too much, etc. The human element is exactly why trainers and dietitians tell you to keep a journal and write down EXACTLY what you eat and drink and when. It’s ultimately a lifestyle change.
My point is that training is a waste of time unless you are committed to all aspects of the development. The training session AND the outside-of-the-gym changes.
Development is linked to an outcome. One can read books, take classes, attend seminars, but unless the goal is linked to a specific outcome, these things are just training exercises. The problem with this is when these people are thrown into the real world and actions and decisions actually count, they are not prepared to execute.
There is a direct reflection between all of these “leadership programs” and the lack of leadership in today’s workplace. It’s not working! Adapting, making tough decisions, leading through chaos, and dealing with adversity – these are the issues leaders face. These skills are not genetic! They have to be developed and cultivated!
Quit the talking and stop the quick fixes. Leadership is about what happens after the perfect plan is drawn up.